I spent time with Greg twice while he was hospitalized in California but thankfully what took Greg’s life was life itself. He was far too young to die. Though on Oklahoma’s death row for a crime he did not commit the state of Oklahoma did not kill Greg. Through the commitment of his family and some great legal work Greg was freed. But the lasting effects of a conviction for a crime he did not commit plus the loss of his wife, whose life he was accused of taking, plus serving that time on death row took a terrible effect on Greg. Wrongful convictions do that to every man and woman who has lived to tell the story. It’s wrong. Each exoneree deserves compensation after the state makes an error. Unfair? I don’t think so. Each innocent man and woman should be paid back for the years they’ve lost and the pain they’ve suffered when the state gets it wrong. We can do a lot more.
Restorative justice is about offender accountability and in these cases those who are responsible should be held accountable. When the real offender is not caught, which was the case in Greg Wilhoit’s life, the state has produced another victim of crime. Greg deserved compensation but the state of Oklahoma never paid Greg a dime. His name was never cleared. That’s wrong.
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